- Pre-Market Indications

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Indications: U.S. stock futures trim gains after ADP

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By Barbara Kollmeyer and Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures lightly shaved gains Wednesday after Automatic Data Processing Inc. reported that private-sector companies added 201,000 jobs in March, while February’s job gains were revised downward.

“While the rate of job additions is well below what one would hope for, there is clearly a pickup in job creation,” noted Dan Greenhaus, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak & Co.

The data came ahead of Friday’s closely watched nonfarm-payrolls report.

Up more than 50 points before the ADP report, futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\m11 (DJM11 12,275, +50.00, +0.41%)  were lately up 44 points to 12,269. Those for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\m11 (SPM11 1,323, +6.30, +0.48%)  rose 5.9 points to 1,322.4.

Futures for the Nasdaq 100 index /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\m11 (NDM11 2,340, +17.00, +0.73%)   gained 15.5 points to 2,338.

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Overnight, Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /quotes/comstock/64e!i:ni225 (JP:NI225 9,709, +249.71, +2.64%)  rallied 2.6% as exporters surged on a drop in the yen and news of recovering production after the recent earthquake and tsunami.

In Europe, stocks were mostly higher, led by miners, car makers and utilities.

“The markets have taken a bit of a step today,” said Ben Critchley, sales trader at IG Index. He said momentum in Asian markets seems to be building after initial losses in the wake of the Japanese crisis.

“Markets seem strong, considering what’s going on in the world, and certainly, as far as the U.S. goes, we saw declining consumer sentiment and house prices... that has worried the market before, but it seems to have been pushed to one side,” he said.

Soccer game lifts Japan's spirits

Japan's national soccer team faces off against current and former stars of the country's professional soccer league in a charity match. It was the first event to capture national interest since the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan on March 11.

On Tuesday, Wall Street closed higher, paced by gains for energy and telecom stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 12,279, +81.13, +0.67%)  rose 81 points, or 0.7%, to close at 12,279.

Among companies in the news, Family Dollar Stores Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!fdo/quotes/nls/fdo (FDO 52.40, +1.00, +1.95%)  reported a second-quarter profit of 98 cents a share. On average, analysts surveyed by FactSet Research expected a quarterly profit of 97 cents a share.

Shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!vrx/quotes/nls/vrx (VRX 44.39, +0.13, +0.29%)  rose in premarket trade. Late Tuesday, the company said it will bid $73 a share for biopharmaceutical group Cephalon Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!ceph/quotes/nls/ceph (CEPH 58.75, +1.18, +2.05%)  in an offer valued at almost $5.7 billion. Read about Valeant’s bid for Cephalon.

Also in premarket trading, shares of drug maker Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!achn/quotes/nls/achn (ACHN 7.05, +0.26, +3.83%) rose after the company announced positive results for a clinical trial of a treatment for chronic hepatitis C.

Crude oil for May delivery fell 28 cents to $104.51 a barrel in electronic trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Against the Japanese yen, the U.S. dollar /quotes/comstock/21o!x:susdjpy (USDYEN 82.9900, +0.5200, +0.6305%)   rose to ¥83.05, after hitting a more than three-week high.

The dollar got a boost Tuesday from speculation that the U.S. Federal Reserve won’t extend its quantitative-easing program past June. Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher said he would vote against any further monetary easing by the central bank after the current program ends.

Gains for the dollar continued through Asian and into European trading.

Barbara Kollmeyer is an editor for MarketWatch in Madrid. Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.

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